It is the time of the year when we celebrate our students’ accomplishments, complete another successful DeVos-Dow-Hantz session, and certainly prepare for commencement ceremonies. And how could I not mention review of final projects, final grading and exam prep, prep for minis, and prep for summer activities?!
As we wind down our work in the classroom, I would like to bring you up-to-date on the various topics we have been discussing over the last several months. This issue of AQIP in Action covers improvements and actions in:
Department chair structure for traditional undergraduate programs
After much discussion and feedback, we are moving ahead on a restructuring of the current department chair role. We learned much from the AQIP Systems Portfolio analysis, Program Reviews, discussions with the Professional Standards Committees, and Deans’ Council interactions. Right now we have 35 department chairs for our campuses – with a total of about 83 full-time and 82 part-time faculty. Chairs address both administrative and curricular functions, yet we have found an uneven use and role for chairs – equity of load issues; inconsistency in how curriculum is addressed across campus programs; inconsistency in addressing collaborations (with Admissions, Advancement, Alumni, industry relations, etc.); unevenness of evaluations; and overall efficiency and effectiveness issues of the position relative to number of chairs, size of programs, and investment being made. Add in that Texas has moved to areas of concentration as well as our move to semesters in fall 2010 – and you have a situation warranting a change.
We are addressing instructional improvement and re-shifting priorities to a One Northwood curriculum, equity and efficiency, using deans as academic thought leaders, and using real-dollar savings to reinvest in academics. Many options have been considered, and beginning this fall, we will move to a division structure which includes:
Ultimately, we should think about chair restructuring as an interim step – a step towards improving and reinvesting in the academic enterprise. As we mature and move increasingly toward a learner-centered culture, we should continually address our department structure. The campus academic deans have already been talking with faculty colleagues on this restructuring and are working to finalize details.
Instructional improvement initiatives
We have made tremendous strides this year in focusing on instructional improvement. Faculty Jennifer Luzar and Laura Vosejpka have led our L.E.A.F. efforts during this pilot phase and the response has been exciting! A sampling of improvements:
Please note one of our investment areas is providing on-the-ground support to faculty and, as such, we are designating:
And as you talk with your deans, please note we are investing in:
We have funded two groups of faculty to attend two major national conferences this year and have continued discussions on where we stand on “how we know” we are delivering our 12 Outcomes and program/course objectives. We need further focus and practical applications in this area and, as such, please note:
You were invited to provide input to our strategic planning sessions throughout the late fall and winter months and the Officer Team is taking a draft strategic plan to the Board of Trustees. We will be discussing the plan with the Board at the May 9 meeting and hope to have an approved plan thereafter. We will share the plan and it will become the basis for actions over the near-term. It should be no surprise that it incorporates findings from the AQIP Systems Portfolio, Program Reviews, and strategy discussions. More details to follow, but please note our draft strategic themes include:
And I also must take this time to publicly acknowledge the tremendous efforts of Dr. Cheryl Pridgeon, our Florida Campus dean. After years of outstanding service, Cheryl is returning to her area of passion–the classroom. Our focus this year has been to assess how we can improve the teaching/learning exchange and this action solidifies our focus! Thank you, Cheryl!
In sum, many actions and improvements have been made over the last nine months. For example, we have:
We are moving towards a more learner-centered environment, know we have some continuing room for improvement, yet are making excellent strides.
As always, my door/email/phone are open for feedback and questions!
We will pause AQIP in Action for the summer months and return as the 2008-2009 academic year commences.My very best to committed, real-world, thought-provoking faculty colleagues,